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FCC to Allow Wireless Access on Planes

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-could-go-wrong dept.

Wireless Networking 336

isd_glory writes "The FCC has unanimously voted to allow wireless internet connections on airplanes. If everything goes according to plans, airplanes might be offering passengers internet service by as soon as 2006. Furthermore, the FCC is also soliciting comments about the possibility of lifting the in-flight ban on cellphone use. While this could be new profit source for the cash-strapped airlines, it might also be a new way to annoy your neighbor sitting next to you."

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Oh no.... (4, Funny)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099892)

it might also be a new way to annoy your nighbor sitting next to you.

This is exactly where it is going to go. This is going to be horrible having to listen to calls like this: "Dude, dude, dude......guess where I am? Hehehe, dude, I am in a plane he he whoooooaaaa dude" your breaking up there.....CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??? HOW ABOUT NOW????!!!?. Yeah thats exactly what I want. If the airlines want to make people even more crazy in the air they will subject us to stuff like that. Now, if they are smart, they will create cell phone free zones so that everybody does not have to be subjected to the mindless banter that people inflict on others around them.

It might even be a more horrible experience than I had on a flight from Sydney to Australia a couple of months ago with a couple of ecstasy addled passengers in front of me who were mixing alcohol with their e's as well. Those guys would not shut up. Cell phones have the same effect on some folks. They appear to be oblivious to anybody else around them and start the most inane loud conversations obligatorily involving anybody within earshot. All I have to say is that a good investment in Bose [bose.com] noise canceling headsets have been one of the best investments ever and appear to possibly become a necessity when flying.

Re:Oh no.... (5, Funny)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099929)

...Sydney to Australia? Are you circling around the airport and landing again? ;)

Re:Oh no.... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099943)

Bah, I intended to type Sydney to Los Angeles..... Long day again.....

Re:Oh no.... (2, Funny)

dicepackage (526497) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100226)

If you went from Sydney to Australia I would say it was a very short day.

PLUG (0, Offtopic)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099959)

All I have to say is that a good investment in Bose noise canceling headsets have been one of the best investments ever and appear to possibly become a necessity when flying.

Your plug sir, is masterful. Truely, Truely breathtaking.

Wow.

Re:PLUG (0, Troll)

Gherald (682277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100049)

> Your plug sir, is masterful. Truely, Truely breathtaking.

About as masterful and breathtaking as your spelling?

Re:Oh no.... (0, Redundant)

DJHeini (593589) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099962)

on a flight from Sydney to Australia a couple of months ago

How long of a flight was that exactly? Is it longer than the flight from New York to the United States? I doubt it'll be that big of a problem: the required satellite routing of cell calls will allow the airlines to charge high rates, and most people probably won't feel like paying them.

Cellphone on Airplanes (3, Interesting)

Liselle (684663) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099973)

There are several technical reasons why cellphones are banned, don't forget. Interference with the instruments in the plane is one thing. The fact that cellphones thousands of feet in the air can "see" a whole bunch of cellphone towers at once poses a problem, too. To solve the problem, they'd probably have to have some sort of localized setup on the plane itself, which requires cooperation from the carriers (they are already arguing about how many carriers should be allowed to compete), which means cellphones on planes might happen when I'm too old to fly anyway. :D

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (5, Interesting)

Niltsiar (471) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100067)

Actually, what you're saying isn't quite true. Most cell phone towers are actually pointing their antennas downwards, which is why many cell phone providers wont guarantee service to people living in apartments or working offices above the tenth floor, unless the building his its own cell node.

The other thing is, and this may just be the conspiracy theorist in me coming out, cell phones cause minimum interference to instruments on planes, the main reason they don't want you using your cell phone, particularly while taxi-ing and such, when your cell phone will definitely be working and have a signal, is because they want you to use their (very expensive) air phones.

Of course, with roaming in the US being so unbelievably crap compared to other places in the world (mainly Europe, although here in Australia, the cell phone coverage is generally excellent too), as well as having many different competing standards, I'll agree with you on one thing, I don't see them installing cell phone nodes in planes anytime soon.

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100090)

Take some valium and note well: you may now use your cell phone while taxiing in the United States. Nice try.

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (1)

phobos13013 (813040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100160)

One of the bigger tech hurrdles to pass is the rate of speed of a user. Switching from tower to tower is not noticable usually when yr say driving down the highway. But in a plane at that speed towers would have a considerably more difficult time transferring from tower to tower especially over a long range flight covering many states. And trans-atlantic or pacific flights are probably SOL anyway. All this could be muted if a cell tower was actually placed on the plane, but i dont know how concievable that is at the moment...

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (3, Informative)

mrm677 (456727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100167)

Yes, a mini base station would be required on the plane for cellphones to work. This would then be patched into the rest of the system via satellite.

Even if you are flying at 1000 feet and your signal wasn't distorted by the aluminum shell, handoffs woudln't work flying that fast. There is a small window of opportunity for cell-to-cell handoffs. It differs between CDMA, AMPS, GSM, and etc. This is also the reason the old Japanese PDC system wouldn't work in cars. Handoffs were too slow to work beyond 20 mph or so.

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100173)

I thought cell phones are banned only during takeoff and landing? Also, they say cell phones interfere with airplane instruments, but how much of this is actually true, and how much of it isn't, but just FCC being overly cautious?

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (3, Informative)

ecklesweb (713901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100185)

The argument that cell phones interfere with instruments seems to be overblown. From a news.com.com.com.com article:
Engineers at NASA noted at least three years ago that cell phones were being built so well that they emitted remarkably fewer interference-causing spurious radio signals. A NASA engineer said in a 2000 interview that the airplane cell phone ban would be lifted once earlier generations of cell phones wore down and were tossed out or recycled.

Of course, that being said, I'd sure like some solid data. Apparently the FAA has commissioned an indepenedent agency to study the effects of cell phones on instrumentation. Results aren't due until 2006.

Anyone heard any further details about the "independent study"?

Re:Cellphone on Airplanes (1)

flithm (756019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100248)

It seems to me that if they allow internet access (assuming it's latency free enough) you could easily use some sort of VoIP type of technology in order to get around the cell-phone ban.

They'll have to either allow cell-phone's (and profit even more), or stick to the measily insane fee's they'll be charging for their in-flight internet.

Don't fly! (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099993)

I just don't fly anymore. I drive. The only trips I have to take are once or twice a year to Dallas or Chicago, which are around a 7 hour drive. By the time I get to the airport 1-2 hours early, then take another 1-2 hours when I get there, to get my luggage, find a cab and get to the hotel, screw it, I'll just drive, and I won't be stuck using a cab to get around. Now add to that these idiots that can't go for a few hours without using their cell phone or laptop, coupled with the way they squeeze you into an airline seat, it's no wonder people don't want to fly.

Almost (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100058)

  • Cell phones have the same effect on some folks. They appear to be oblivious to anybody else around them and start the most inane loud conversations obligatorily involving anybody within earshot.

Some people seem to take pleasure in talking to someone on the phone around complete strangers. They blather on, and sometimes if you stare at them they'll give you a little look that says, "Yeah, I'm so cool - you are helpless but to listen to me! Aren't I fascinating?"

Once I was in a bus from San Francisco airport on the way to a downtown hotel for a SANS. The guy in the seat behind me went on and on to his victim on the other end of the phone about how long the bus was taking. We got stuck in traffic, and he kept going on. He almost lost his life, the first victim of suffocation by cell phone.

My wife was along for the trip. She saved his life.

Re:Oh no.... (1)

CCFarmboy (837362) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100088)

How bout a frequency jammer. Fixes all problems. Even that pesky communication with the tower. Cell phones on planes were bound to happen.

Yeah, stick to the noise canceling headphones. It's the only way to fly.

Re:Oh no.... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100203)

There are already payphones built into plane seats. Why should cellphones be worse?

Re:Oh no.... (2, Funny)

jsgates (232994) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100213)

Headphones? I was just going for a quick elbow to the chest and a roll of ductape.

Re:Oh no.... (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100231)

Hey, that's better than them trying to talk to *me*. This is just another reason to bring noise dampening headphones, and this way, you're not even being rude, the person next to you can talk to whoever they want no need to bother you.

Oh, Cool! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099905)

Now I can h4xxor from the air, outside of any country! H33 H44H4444

Annoying (2, Funny)

AyeFly (242460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099913)

...another way to annoy the person next to you...
Jeez, the perfect thing for those long flights comes along, and its every geeks dream, and you are stupid enough to complain about having wireless internet on a plane??? Get a life, even if we nerds don't.

first DAMN post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099921)

Yeehaw, i got the first damn post , foolz!!!

Re:first DAMN post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100194)

--; ed

Internet Access (1)

samtihen (798412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099923)

I'd rather just have cheap, fast internet access.

Re:Internet Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100183)

imagine a beowulf cluster of those.

cell phone class (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099926)

Or it will be a reason for them to charge extra for a 'no cell phone class' area of the plane

Re:cell phone class (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100033)

No. They will charge more for the 'cell phone enabled class' area of the plane.

This Story -1 Redundant (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099928)

Old news. move along.

Why does it have to be wireless? (1, Interesting)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099930)

Why not put a fucking cat5 jack in the back of every seat?

Utterly dumb shit.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (2, Insightful)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099952)

Why not put a fucking cat5 jack in the back of every seat?

'Cause an airplane can't well have a T1 backbone to the ground, now can it? Might as well have it ALL be wireless, eh?

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099954)

That's what I was thinking. Surely there are airlines that offer this already. Satellite internet to plane, LAN to your seat.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (4, Funny)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099992)

Because the cable trailing along behind the plane is unsightly and tends to exceed the 100m limit quite rapidly.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (2, Insightful)

atrizzah (532135) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100004)

Because it's more expensive to maintain a whole bunch of wires and networking gear that will never be fully utilized than to throw up an access point or two. Think about it for a second before posting a too-cool response.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100148)

Do your ass cheeks move when you talk, or is that an optical illusion?

You can't go get the $30 Dlinks on sale at walmart. You'll want a commercial-grade router, Cisco Aironets or similar. So, That puts you in the several thousand dollars range. Not to mention that you're still talking major installation for the wiring to the uplink antennas, they put those in the wings, right?

Not to mention, that the seats are generally designed for wiring of some sort in mind... the headphones, or lights, whatever. The cost of the cat5 itself is neglible, especially on the scale of an airline industry, the cost is for the installers, and guess what, you've already hired them.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100215)

You're a moron it seems so I'll try and keep this simple, wired would require:
-Networking gear
-Cables taken to each seat, this requires taking apart the required sections and adding the cable
-Replacing parts of each seat to add the jacks

And they gain basically nothing, why? Because almsot every fuckin device now has wireless and because only laptops have wired. So they'd need to add wireless anyway.

And if you haven't checked, the airlines aren't doing all that well nowadays so they'd charge us for the internet. And in all honesty I don't want to pay more because people like you don't want to spend $20 on a wireless card.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100012)

Do you seriously have any idea how much money it costs to pull a plane out of service, pull all the paneling off, and run miles upon miles of CAT5 cable to each and every seat? Not to mention, how do you get the cable from the floor to the seat? Every part of the seat is simply exposed metal. Do you really want to be paying for this (replacing cables/etc) down the road in terms of ticket prices? Didn't think so. Also, the cost to keep the jacks crap free from people that would like to stick gum in them because they got trashy service on a connecting flight wouldn't be worth it. I hate wireless, but it's better in this case--much better. Simply install two access points (one at the rear of the plane, and one between first class and coach) and you're set. This could most likely be done when the planes go in for a regular service check. Don't over complicate things.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100063)

Well, in the Airbus I flew in last time, they had foldout LCD screens. I suppose they were wireless.

And um. Maybe, you wait until the thing needs scheduled maintenance, and will already be grounded, to do the work.

For gum, I'd imagine the same inspection they do to make sure you didn't vandalize the seat at the end of the flight, and an automatic $500 damage deduction from your credit card (haha, suppose you pay cash, right?) would be enough.

Re:Why does it have to be wireless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100034)

Like I want to have to drag around Cat5 cable with me :/ No thanks.

SWEET! (4, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099931)

Now the fat guy sitting next to me will not only be sweating and overflowing into my seat, but he might just be jerking off via his wonderful wireless connection now too. Wonderful.

Re:SWEET! (1)

comwiz56 (447651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099965)

People can already bring magazines (ever been in an airport bookstore...) on the plane (and do).

Re:SWEET! (2, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099989)

Ah, the ever-present battle between high and low-tech perverts... :)

Re:SWEET! (1)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099983)

I suppose we should ban books and magazines, too, so he can't whack off to Hustler or the Story of O, either. :)

What about...? (2, Insightful)

comwiz56 (447651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099933)

Hmmm... but how much will it cost? If talking on a phone is close to to $687/minute, what is internet access going to be? If its cheaper, how long till they realise that people are just going to bypass with VoIP. Or will they be smart and run their own VoIP service and give the handsets an overhaul.

Could be usefull (1)

dublinclontarf (777338) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099935)

there are bound to be anoyances but i think it coul be usefull, think about it, your traveling and youve foregotten something or you need to arange to meet someone or something.
it allows for last minute communications.

What I want to know is... (5, Interesting)

reynolds_john (242657) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099937)

WTF changed!? (other than the fat contracts I'm sure the carriers have been working out)

I mean, the flight attendants lose all sense of reality if you're caught using a cell phone. I've been on a couple of flights where the flight attendant took the passenger's cell phone after seeing them take a call.

So... what's changed to make it "safe" all of a sudden?

Re:What I want to know is... (3, Informative)

ccharles (799761) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100092)

It's the same as in hospitals (in Ontario, Canada at least). It was determined that cell phones *might* interfere with important equipment. Failure of important equipment in hospitals and airplanes can lead to bad things, and were thus banned altogether.

In fact, cellphones generate VERY little interference for hospital equipment. I've read that they're used all the time in some Asian hospitals by patients, doctors and everybody in between.

This is a classic example of the fire alarm principle: alarms are too sensitive because the PITA of a false alarm is much less costly than not alarming when there's a real fire.

As we realize that cell phones are pretty much harmless from an interference perspective, they're being phased in due to customer demand.

Re:What I want to know is... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100166)

So... what's changed to make it "safe" all of a sudden?

There are only three possibilities: One, since cell phones were invented and popularized, and it was realized that people would want to use them on planes, planes have been upgraded and/or redesigned so it is safe. As this is ferociously expensive and planes will last 30 years sometimes, I doubt this.

Two, the planes will be so upgraded and redesigned before deployment of the necessary support technology. Same objection.

Three, it was never unsafe and it was just a smokescreen for other issues, or perhaps no other issues at all, just baseless paranoia on par with being afraid of cellphone use while pumping gas.

I know which I've got my money on. Especially since if the planes were that fragile, accidentally turned on or left on cell phones, which almost certainly happens every day, would be taking down planes left and right.

But hey, you decide.

(I'm not a "trust no one" type, but I'm definately a believer in "trust, but verify [google.com] ".)

too bad it already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099938)

hey dumb @$$ to bad it already exists on Lufthansa's flights to and from the US as well as in Europe

yeah, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099980)

Europe sucks.. who gives a shit about a continent full of fakes and fags?

Re:yeah, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100078)

Me!

Lots of luv
George Michael
xxxxx

Just wait for ... (1, Funny)

gonerill (139660) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099941)

The first court case about the guy sitting next to you who started browsing pr0n about an hour into the flight.

nighbor? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099944)

are you sure you didn't mean NIGGER or NIGGLET?

my nigga

Aisle or Window? Phoning or No Phoning? (2, Interesting)

e9th (652576) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099948)

How about No Cell Phone sections on flights?

Re:Aisle or Window? Phoning or No Phoning? (1)

NAvAP (759249) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099963)

Which they will just charge extra for...

Re:Aisle or Window? Phoning or No Phoning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100013)

You're probably right. But then they didn't charge for No Smoking section seats way back when. Of course, that could just be because they hadn't thought it.

Yes, WE heard that suggested on NPR too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100089)

But thanks.

Here come the LAN parties (4, Funny)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099955)

I think I know the perfect things the airlines could offer. LAN parties. You just bring a laptop (or they could loan you one on selected flights) and you play with the people on the plane with you. I can imagine such a thing taking off, actually. Or they could just offer Internet. *shrug*

Re:Here come the LAN parties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100014)

Probably a lot easier to just loan out a bunch of those new wireless handheld consoles from Nintendo (DS) / Sony (PSP). Assuming their fancy custom wifi doesn't break anything.
Mind you, I'd personally rather do something a bit more relaxing, and I play videogames all the time on solid ground...

Re:Here come the LAN parties (1)

Piquan (49943) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100064)

I wonder if there's any general custom for people on the same LAN to find a common server. That is, could somebody start up a multiplayer Quake (or whatever), and everybody else finds it on the LAN without needing to coordinate IPs?

I guess I'm describing Rendezvous, but that's pretty narrowly-implemented right now, and doesn't have much gaming support AFAIK.

Re:Here come the LAN parties (1)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100123)

You just bring a laptop (or they could loan you one on selected flights) and you play with the people on the plane with you

Uhm, yeah. Have you ever actually tried that? I can barely fit my 15" laptop on the seat tray in front of me, let alone use the mouse at the same time. Pray the guy in front of you doesn't recline his seat - you'll have to close your LCD panel half way to even use it. Even in first class, in the bulkhead with the laptop on my actual lap, it was a pain (and I'm not referring to toasting my testes).

I actually went out and bought a 13" Sony VAIO laptop so that I could use it on the plane.

Re:Here come the LAN parties (1)

tektek (829733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100216)

Does this mean you could play wireless games on a PSP while you travel with the others on-board? Well, for 90 minutes or so at least?

Hey a new way to stop Terrorists (1)

krudler (836743) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099960)

People can play Counter Strike on board the plane. If terrorists see that, they'd be way to scared to take over the plane with all those experienced counter terrorists nearby.

cs_747 is a great map to practice on as well.

Re:Hey a new way to stop Terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11099979)

What's the most common way of setting off a bomb these days? A rejigged mobile phone... look at Madrid, for example.

IRC 30,000 feet high! (1)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099976)

#unitedflight646 /topic Anyone flying to San Francisco right now? Online dating, while you're on the plane! Frienster for specific air flights! Oh man... this is unleashing a new demon!

Re:IRC 30,000 feet high! (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100125)

Important question: If you cyber on the plane, does that make you a member of the Mile High Club?

Counter-Strike anyone? (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#11099988)

Just play counter-strike on the airplane in mid-flight. Crank up the volume, have the guns blaring away, then you hear "Hostage down! Hostage down!" I'm sure it will be appreciated.

Re:Counter-Strike anyone? (3, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100114)

I'd love to see how everyone reacts to hearing "the bomb has been planted" with that grainy radio sound the game uses :)

Storm the front!

Re:Counter-Strike anyone? (2, Funny)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100178)

Thats not quite as bad as a quote I heard from some Doom players talking to each other in a plane "You grab the hidden shot gun and I'll go kill the two up the front"

I can't wait for this... (1)

dteichman (815136) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100006)

so I can play Half Life 2 against the other kid in the back of the plane. Then, after I lose, I can browse his netbios shares with Winfingerprint and download all his pr0n. Yep. I could see this really getting popular.

International flights (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100015)

This would most likely have no benefit to international flights that fly over a long stretch of ocean. I remember a while ago that you could use the the special phone in flight which could read credit cards but the rate was around $15 per minute!! I don't know if all trans-atlantic flights take a very similar route and if would ever be profitable for a cell phone provider to provide signal over that route......

Re:International flights (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100085)

Shhhh...don't tell Lufthansa [lufthansa.com] that their overseas internet access doesn't work, they might get very upset :P

This is the next step in wardriving... (5, Funny)

sugarboy (125106) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100028)

"I got a network! Shit, out of range. I got a network! Shit, out of range. I got a network! Shit, out of range. Bugger."

This will be useful when there is a plane crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100031)

The passangers actively using the internet will be able to send real time visual info right before their demise.

VoiP (1)

Ravensign (134410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100032)

"FCC is also soliciting comments about the possibility of lifting the in-flight ban on cellphone use"

How fast can you say VoIP? Hell, get teamspeak going on a freaking headset, screw waiting on them to allow phone calls in 2040.

Some overseas airlines already have internet... (3, Interesting)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100050)

Singapore Airlines for one...there are others.

I'm sure internet will be limited, at least initially, to first and business class. It might actually make it worth upgrading, especially on an international flight, so you could get some work done and collaborate in real time.

This could be good news for me in particular since I generally approve the structual engineering for mods like this for a living. Yes, I'm from the FAA and I'm here to help you ;) (well, a civilian representative of the FAA anyways).

As for cellphones, ....I'll just say I'm looking forward to reading the public comments on that one.

Huh? (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100053)

You know.. I'm not exactly a small dude, but I'm not fucking huge either...

And I've found using my 12" iBook to be almost all but impossible in the standard "coach" compartments of most aircraft, with my screen at an angle that is almost unreadable.. And forget about trying to type comfortably. Then, if the asshole in front of me jacks the seat completely back, I might as well pull out a book. If Apple made something along the lines of the Fujitsu P2000 series, or the Sony TRV series, it might be doable...

Re:Huh? (1)

Wonko42 (29194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100225)

I've used my 17" widescreen Sager laptop in coach before, and for writing code no less. The space was a little tight, but it was still perfectly usable. Either you're larger than you let on, or you're flying on the wrong airline.

Save Me, FAA! (4, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100055)

I head a piece on NPR about this today. I have two thoughts.

First, I like the WiFi, that would be great. The only thing that worries me is that people will start using it for VOIP to get around any anti-cellphone regulations.

Second, the FAA has its own ban on cell phones in airplanes. So even if the FCC says it's OK (which, from a technological/interference point of view it is), the FAA can still keep it banned (like smoking is banned, for example) keeping us all sane in the air.

If the FAA doesn't save us, I suspect that portable cell-phone jammers will become VERY popular among frequent travelers. And how dangerous do you think THOSE unregulated things will be for pilots?

Re:Save Me, FAA! (1)

Ph33r th3 g(O)at (592622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100107)

The only thing that worries me is that people will start using it for VOIP to get around any anti-cellphone regulations.

Why would that be a problem? Assuming the VoIP equipment doesn't have the potential to interfere with navigation (and doesn't cause the rapid cell hop that's the real reason cells are banned on board), what business is it of the airline's?

Re:Save Me, FAA! (1)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100159)

First, I like the WiFi, that would be great. The only thing that worries me is that people will start using it for VOIP to get around any anti-cellphone regulations. Uhm, if you're not using a cellphone, then you don't have to worry about anti-cellphone regulations. There's nothing to "get around".
Second, the FAA has its own ban on cell phones in airplanes. I would be inclined to agree. But a bunch of wannabe-lawyer jackasses on /. don't. There was an article on /. about a college campus apartment that tried to ban wifi routers. Said wannabe-lawyer jackasses kept posting on /. "Nothing trumps the FCC! Nothing trumps the FCC!" I think you've just opened the same can of worms flamewar.

I'm Suprised Noone Has Posted This Yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100056)

This [livejournal.com]

talking on a phone annoying? (2, Insightful)

HappyDrgn (142428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100070)

How is talking on a phone any more or less annoying than talking to a person sitting next to you?

Cash strapped, yeah right (2, Insightful)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100084)

Have a look at this Quantas Record Profit [luchtzak.be]

Then they have the nerve to add a levy because fuel prices are high.
How to make it big: Pass ALL* expenses to consumers, keep profits to yourself. * If you do not have enough expenses, make some up.

Rethinking that seat choice....... (3, Funny)

dickeya (733264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100106)

That seat next to the crying baby is looking better and better already

Teenagers with cell phones suck.

VOIP (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100113)

Who needs cell phones on planes now? ;-)

And... (1)

tektek (829733) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100124)

That's why I have an archos. :)

what??? (2, Insightful)

Whatanut (203397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100132)

How exactly would this be annoying? We're talkin' about wireless internet. What exactly is annoying about this and what exactly do you have to complain about? The mention of "possible cell phone access in the future" comment was purely to rile people up. Come on. This is a good thing. Deal with it!

Profit??? (2, Interesting)

cytoman (792326) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100137)

While this could be new profit source for the cash-strapped airlines

How could this be a new profit source? By "this", do you mean the internet connections (I can see how this could get them some profit), or do you mean allowing cell phone calls (which, frankly, I can't figure out how it would be)?

quick! (1)

Pierre (6251) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100158)

Run out and buy stock in those noise cancelling headphones. I know that I'll be picking some up.

FCC maybe, but not the FAA (yet) (1)

still cynical (17020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100162)

There are TWO bans on using cellphones on an airplane. The FCC ban was instituted to prevent interference with ground users caused by being almost equidistant to several cells at once. The FAA ban was instituted to prevent interference with aircraft systems. The FAA is looking into it, right now no one has scientifically established said interference.

So don't hold your breath. When/if it does happen, you won't be using the cell phone you own now anyway.

been there done that (4, Informative)

Anubis333 (103791) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100169)

Lufthansa has about 80 planes with wifi already [newswireless.net] , they fly to destinations in the US and Germany..

Save /.'s hard drives! (3, Insightful)

Odin's Raven (145278) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100170)

Furthermore, the FCC is also soliciting comments about the possibility of lifting the in-flight ban on cellphone use.

In an effort to save /. a little disk space, could we all agree that Monday's discussion [slashdot.org] has already flogged the "in-flight cellphone" horse to death? Yadda yadda "annoying yammering twits", yadda yadda "but I could call my spouse", yadda yadda "all just a conspiracy by the phone company"... Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

So let's concentrate on important things, like making WAGs about how much the wi-fi service will cost. And how there'll be annoying twits hogging the bandwidth downloading pr0n at 30K feet, and how useful it'll be to email your spouse to let him/her know the plane is crashing, yadda yadda yadda...

Oh, and most important - we'll need at least one thread about how this will be used by terrorists to coordinate their attacks by IM-ing each other. (No flight article is complete without a terrorist thread.) And another thread about how all the money needed to implement this would be better spent feeding starving squirrels in Bulgaria. Think about the squirrels!

(And yes, it has been a long day... :-)

In other news (2, Funny)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100180)

Shortly after taking off from Chesterfield-Spirit of Saint Louis Airport, in fog and light snow,
Flight 187 collided head on with the tower leaving 7 dead and 30 injured.
Forensic investigation has revealed that the pilot of the plane had just received an important phone call from his mother-in-law prior to the accident.

WOOT fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11100188)

by simple fucking short of a miracle area. It is the Lagged behind, OF AMERICA irc Hot on the heels of every day...Like one or the other a fullY-time GNAA Slashdot 'BSD is Have somebody just another cunting AMERICA) is the Troubled OS. Now Fellow travellers? right now. I tried, the project to notorious OpenBSD for election, I already dead. It is to have to decide Than this BSDc box, ass until I hit my

I have a pilots license and I know how VOR works (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100232)

I do not want to be on a plane in solid IFR with a mobile phone that is on. Thats just too damn scary. I don't like the idea of being in a plane where the pilots can't see out the window and the only thing keeping it from flying into the rocks is few radio signals and a few small gyroscopes.

Wireless Internet + Skype, etc. (1)

minairia (608427) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100241)

Well, with wireless internet and a headset/microphone and Skype, you have the equivalent of a cell phone anyway. Some of the newest things coming out are "phones" that are basically wireless netportals that use Skype or something like it to let people make calls. It is going to be interesting when someone pulls one of these out on a plane, gets told he can't use cell phones and then tries to explain to the highschool drop out IQ 75 stewardness that the phone isn't really phone even though it rings, you can call out and receive calls on it ...

Well... (1)

ReeprFlame (745959) | more than 9 years ago | (#11100246)

At least there will not be any RF interferance or anything of that sort. Sure beats configuring that modem to connect to the phone jack in the back of the seat!
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